(Part 1 of 2)
The first question that hit me when I said I wanted this job was how do we transform an existing school, Decker Middle School in Manor Tx, from what it is to what it will become?
I mean the school building is there. There are students attending the school. Heck, a lot of the students I was teaching came from that school. But, the school it is about to become doesn’t exist and the teachers, administrators, and I have the chance to mold the school in whatever fashion we desire.
Luckily I am a teacher who has been trained by the New Tech Network (NTN) to use project based learning (PBL). This is the ultimate PBL assignment. I was given the entry event when I went to the job interview. I know that a thriving middle school where teachers are using PBL as the means to teach their content is my final product. It’s time to create my Knows and Need to Knows.
- In August sixth graders will be coming through the doors expecting an education (THAT is the ultimate know).
- Some of the sixth graders will be coming from an elementary school where the teachers are using PBL in their classrooms very successfully.
- The 6th grade teachers I will be working with have been to a 4 day training on how to use PBL and have been working with the 5th grade teachers to see how it is being used at the elementary school.
- The 6th grade teachers will be attending the New Tech Network’s Annual Conference (NTAC) in July with me.
- I will be attending the New Tech Network’s Boot Camp (for trainers) in June.
- I will be attending the Buck Institute for Education’s PBL 101 as a guest of White Oak (Tx) ISD’s in early June.
- I have 20 years of teaching experience, a Masters in Education with emphasis on Middle School Math and Science, and 4 years of PBL teaching experience in a NTN school.
- There are NTN teachers and coaches available, all over the country, who I am connected with through Twitter. They can and will help me with this process. There are also Buck Institute National Faculty I am connected with on Twitter and they will help me too.
- No matter where we are on the opening day of school, we need to be ready to teach and we need to have a structure in place for our students to be successful learners.
- The principal may be new to PBL but he has a great reputation for putting structures in place to create a safe environment where students know they can take risks while being successful learners.